Collaborative Law Nears Maturity

Wednesday, April 4, 2012
Collaborative practice — ​a method of resolving disputes with the help of lawyers but without going to court — ​is gaining ground in Canada. Some of that ground, however, remains rocky.

“Collaborative law is without question the fasting growing form of alternative dispute resolution in North America,” says Christopher Fairman, a law professor at Ohio State University. “It didn’t exist as a distinct practice until the early 1990s. In twenty years, it has spread literally throughout the world.”

Indeed, it now has its own umbrella group, and the International Academy of Collaborative Professionals boasts nearly 4,000 members in more than 200 practice groups in 20 counties, Fairman says.

The popularity of the practice is particularly focused in the area of family law, where “all collaborative communities are expanding,” says Leisa MacIntosh, a family mediator and lawyer with MacIntosh MacDonnell & MacDonald in New Glasgow, N.S. “The growth comes from both within the legal profession, by lawyers who are encouraging colleagues to get trained, and outside the profession, by savvy consumers who are sourcing out more effective and value-based services.”

Acceptance is also evident in new legislation, such as British Columbia’s Family Law Act, which recognizes collaborative law in its definitions as a family dispute resolution process.

“Its source of popularity is the promise to resolve the dissolution of a marriage and related issues without having a court decide them,” Fairman said. “It is also attractive because open communication, voluntary sharing of information, and emphasis on creative problem-solving are hallmarks that appeal to divorcing spouses who want or need to maintain continuing amicable relationships, such as when children are involved.”

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Source: Lawyers Weekly
Language: English
Contact: Donalee Moulton

Posted: April 05, 2012